In different kinds of mythology, there are gods of war, the gods of the sea, gods and goddesses of fertility, and so on. Many mystical deities rule and are in charge of various elements of the earth and the cosmos.
There are also names for different pantheons of gods and goddesses. For example, the Greeks have the Olympians; the Norse have the Aesir & Vanir. Both of these are pretty well known – but what about the Celts? To be clear Celtic myths are not limited strictly to the people of Ireland. Celtic is a term that many people assume relates solely to Ireland. Celtic describes people and ancient tribes across Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Cornwall, Brittany, and the Isle of Man. In Celtic mythology, you have the Tuatha De Danann (pronounced Thoo-a day Du-non). The Tuatha De Danann are the most well-known pantheon in Celtic mythology despite not being as popular across the world as Norse or Greek mythology.
The title Tuatha de Danann means: People/Tribe of Danu.
Danu was one of the most notable Goddesses of Celtic Mythology. She is often known as a divine creator goddess or a mother goddess. However, the issue with Celtic mythology is that much of the legends and stories were lost over time. There is not one single creation or cosmogony myth that is widely accepted in Celtic mythology.
Some of the legends say that the Tuatha De Danann were not the first people to inhabit Ireland. Some say that there were several generations before the magical Tuatha De Danann fully occupied Ireland. From what folklore tells us, the Tuatha De Danann almost had a war with a group of entities called the Fomorians. Like the Tuatha De Danann, the Fomorians were also a supernatural race of people in Irish mythology. Fomorians were usually hideous, monstrous, and sometimes even giant-like.
After avoiding and escaping wars with the Fomorians, the Celts migrated farther north of Ireland to some empty islands and populated four mythical cities – each city had druids who were knowledgeable in different types of magic and lore. The druids taught the Tuatha De Danann the secrets they knew of magic and tradition. Once the Tuatha De Danann had learned everything the druids offered to teach them concerning the art of sorcery and magic, they returned to Ireland.
When the Tuatha De’ Danann returned to Ireland, they did not go home empty-handed. They brought treasures back with them from those mystical cities that included: The Sword of Light (once drawn from its sheath, no one can escape this sword), The Spear of Lugh( a powerful weapon of the sun god which offered the ability of protection during battles, and whoever carried this spear would remain undefeated), The Stone of Destiny also referred to as the Coronation Stone (the stone would scream out a joyous cry whenever the rightful King of Ireland would step upon it. AND, the stone can be found at the Inauguration Mound on the Hill of Tara in County Meath, Ireland today), and last – but not least, there was the Cauldron of the Dagda, which was able to provide the Tuatha de Danann an endless amount of nourishment.
When the Tuatha de Danann arrived on the shores of Ireland, they intended to stay put this time and not leave. They burned all of their ships as a way to remove any chance of leaving; led by their King whose name was King Nuada. King Nuada was a righteous and honorable first King of the Tuatha de Danann. The only problem they faced when returning to Ireland was that the Firbolg inhabited the land. The Firbolg were another race of mystical and supernatural beings. The Tuatha de Danann told the Firbolg to give up at least half of Ireland – if not, there would be a war.
The Firbolg did not take lightly this threat, and there ended up being a battle between the two. After four days of bloodshed, the Tuatha de Danann won and took back their Ireland. The Firbolg were eventually offered a single region or province after the wars. During that great battle, King Nuada lost his right hand as it was mercilessly cut off by one of the Firbolg. This resulted in King Nuada losing his throne and being replaced by Bres. King Nuada had a new hand made of silver, which then gave him the name King Nuada of the Silver Hand.
King Bres was half Fomorian, so it was only natural for him to side more with monstrous beings than that of Tuatha De’Danann. Fomorians can be compared as similar to Jotuns (Giants) of Norse Mythology. Once Bres became the King he turned the Tuatha de Danann into his slaves. Bres ruled over the Tuatha de Danann for seven long years, and eventually, King Nuada reclaimed his throne. Bres was very displeased with being usurped from his reign and he asked Balor – King of the Fomorians for assistance in fighting against the Tuathade’Danann as retaliation. Balor agreed to help Bres and offered a large army as help. Unfortunately, King Nuada, the first King of the Tuatha de Danann; was killed during the battle by Balor.
It is said in the folklore that his death would be avenged by the mighty sun god Lugh. Lugh also came across Bres during this battle and offered to spare his life only on the condition that Bres would share his knowledge about agriculture with the Tuatha de Danann. Lugh became the new King, and the Fomorians were forced to go back to the undersea civilizations. As with many stories of mythology, it seems that some battles are never-ending. The Tuatha de Danann faced another challenge by battling against a group called the Milesians.
The Milesians tried to invade Ireland and a battle broke out between the two groups. This resulted in the Tuatha De’Danann making a peace treaty with the Milesians. It was agreed that the Milesians would rule the land above, and the Tuatha De’Danann would rule the land below – which was the spirit world also known in Celtic mythology as the Otherworld. This is another huge reason why the Tuatha De’Danann as a pantheon is associated with magic and spiritual beings and entities. Throughout history, the Milesians would later become known as the Irish, and the Tuatha de Danann were referred to as Sìth or aos sí (pronounced “she”) which means people of the mounds.
The aos sí is the ancestors of spirits of nature, gods, and goddesses. Some believe that they still walk the earth among us. The Otherworld was often described as a place of everlasting youth and was the main home of the gods & goddesses. In many tales of Celtic mythology and folklore, some heroes have visited the Otherworld and have been lucky enough to do so and it is said to have changed their lives forever. The Otherworld was and is a very important and magical place in Celtic lore. Although most of the information of Celtic & Irish mythology has been lost due to the spread of Christianity and the Roman Empire,
Many efforts have been made throughout history to preserve this information. As with other parts of European mythologies, most of it was written by Christians years after the ancient stories and myths originated.
Celtic & Irish folklore are rich in different tales of heroes, villains, and creatures alike. Many famous stories include tales of Finn MacCool (Fionn mac Cumhaill), Leprechauns, Faeries, Banshees, Dagda’s Harp, Changelings, The Pooka, The Hound of Culann, Blodeuwedd, and more!
This was originally posted last winter when I was able to travel up to Wisconsin and visited Aztalan State Park. I found it to be a beautiful place even while it was 22°F/-5.56°C and covered in ice and snow. The opinions in my blog post are solely mine and not influenced by anyone or anything. I want to make clear that not everyone may feel the same way or believe in things that may seem otherworldly. Relating folkloric or mythological views to the current mounds of Aztalan may not be appreciated by all, but I am writing this post with good and honest intentions.
Topics like these are ones that I am highly interested in. There are organizations and people who do everything they can to protect the mounds and historic sites across North America, especially those specializing in preservation of sacred Indigenous lands. I applaud and appreciate them because preserving culture, history and nature is very important to me personally. Taking care of the planet is our responsibility and we owe it to the future generations. If you want to learn about Aztalan, and also different theories of giants – keep reading!
Disclaimer: Some things mentioned in my post are considered controversial and pseudoscience. You can decide for yourself.
ADVENTURES THROUGH AZTALAN STATE PARK – EXPERIENCE & MYSTERIES
Originally published by Kimberly Anne on February 2, 2021
My journey through Aztalan State Park was full of tranquility and magic!
Aztalan State Park is not just a State Park; but also a National Historic Landmark. Aztalan is quite extraordinary and incredibly ancient. This beautiful area was once home to many early indigenous people in the state of Wisconsin. The native Aztalan people stemmed from a group known as the Mississippians, a tribe who lived around the Mississippi River Valley from approximately 900 C.E. to 1450 C.E. The most fascinating feature of Aztalan State Park is the ancient burial mounds. Before I get a little deeper into that, let me tell you what led me to this magnificent site.
It was a typical evening in my home, one filled with curiosity and learning. My son and I were watching a documentary called, “A Race of Giants”. In this documentary we heard numerous stories and accounts of literal giant skeletons being found in various excavation sites all over the world, some being specifically located in the United States. If you are familiar with certain parts of mythology or cosmogony tales, you’d recognize that a common theme is giants. I wouldn’t be myself if I did not further investigate what I was hearing in this documentary!
According to “A Race of Giants”, many of the “giant” skeletons that were excavated were found near – you guessed it – ancient burial mounds. In the United States, there are at least over 20 major ancient burial mound sites most of which are focal points for archaeologists and students in North America. These mounds are also sometimes known as effigy mounds. Effigy mounds are large raised pieces of land that were used for ritual or spiritual purposes in Indigenous American/First Nations culture. Many of the mounds are in various shapes, including the form of animals or symbols.
While watching the documentary, suddenly, one story caught my attention completely. That was the discovery of the “Princess Burial”, at Aztalan State Park. The Princess Burial was found in 1919 and consisted of the remains of a female skeleton in her early twenties. Some people suggest that the Princess was over 7 ft. tall, which indicates that she could have been a “giant”, (I have found no supporting evidence stating she was 7-8ft tall – this is a widely speculated theory). During the excavation, it was documented that the remains of the Princess were discovered with hundreds of beads and shells. Most of the shells that were found on-site in the grave were local clamshells, but some were marine shells that are native to the area of the Gulf coast! That is a clear indicator that the shells were imported at that time. The Mississippian nations scattered throughout North America, from Wisconsin down to Mexico, so this could be a reason why imported beads were found in the grave.
In total, the Princess Burial had over 1,900 shell beads. In ancient times, it is known that prominent figures in a society or culture were buried with such items. Emperors and pharaohs have been buried with similar items that would indicate them as important people of high status, so this discovery at Aztalan holds a major significance in the history of ancient America. Interestingly enough, there was a similar burial at another Mississippian site which is known as the Cahokia Mounds in Collinsville, IL. (The Cahokia Mounds are much larger than Aztalan. The Cahokia Mounds are classified as the largest archaeological site in the United States). The burial found at Cahokia also included beads, and they were placed in the shape of a bird.
Before I get too carried away with the Princess mound, let’s discuss a little myth history! In many indigenous myths, there are stories of giants; who were much larger than an average-sized human. There are stories of giants from a variety of First Nations groups including the Apache, Navajo, Hopi, Cherokee, Chickasaw, Creek, and many, many more. One particular group that I’d like to mention is the Paiute. I won’t go too far into this one, but I highly recommend doing a little research on the giant skeletons found near Paiute territories. Have you ever heard of the Lovelock Cave? The Lovelock Cave in Nevada is full of ancient history and indigenous American legends according to the Paiute nation. Through oral traditions, the Paiute told stories of giants that roamed the earth thousands of years ago. It is said the giants were very tall, had red hair, and were cannibals who constantly attacked humans. This story is known as the tale of Si-Te-Cah. The Paiutes could no longer bear to see their people suffer at the hands of these cannibalistic giant creatures. So, as the legend goes, the Paiutes went to war with the giants. The Paiutes teamed up and led the giants into a cave where they would find their ultimate death. That cave is known as Lovelock Cave in Nevada. By the way, the skeletons found around that area are reportedly larger than any man or woman. The skeletons were reported to be 8-10 feet tall.
Finding all of this information enchanting, you can see why it led me to Aztalan State Park. Being that I already have a tremendous love for native myths and culture I just could not resist taking a visit to some nearby mounds. I’m also marveled by many accounts of legends, sagas, and “mythical” creatures – so giants are “right up my alley”, so to speak. I won’t go too far off the deep end, but many people out there do believe that these gargantuan mounds found all over the U.S.A. were built to cover up skeletons of a substantial size. There have also been rumors that the Smithsonian Museum has destroyed and/or lost the skeletal remains of hundreds of giants. I am not in any position to say that is true or false. There have been books published on the matter, but many believe that to be a conspiracy. I suggest always doing your research and making your conclusions regarding such incidents.
Whatever the case may be one key point to always remember is to respect land and culture no matter where it is you find yourself. So now that I’ve explained what led me to Aztalan, I’ll share what the experience was actually like. I’m a Chicago native and do live in the area, so the drive to Aztalan was only a couple of hours. Aztalan State Park is located in Jefferson County, Wisconsin. Naturally, I would have visited the Cahokia Mounds in my home state but that site is currently closed due to COVID. I do plan on making a trip there in the future! Upon arriving at Aztalan State Park you will notice that the park is not very large, and the parking lot itself is incredibly small. I’d say it can fit about 20 cars at most. However, I don’t mind that because I hate being in crowded spaces. When I say this activity was great for social distancing, I’m not kidding! One of the first things I noticed was a sign that said, “Sledding on Mounds Prohibited by Law”. It was upsetting to read that as it shows how out of touch people can be with history, nature, and respect for spirituality as a whole.
Despite that though, I was very excited when I arrived. When you arrive you instantly notice the stockade and the trails leading to the mounds. There is also a ton of signage throughout that gives you insight into the history of Aztalan and the people who inhabited the area before settlers invaded. The main sign at the entrance of the park tells a short story of the people who lived there, and their way of life including information about their crops, hunting, and other activities. Aztalan State Park will forever be known as a major archaeological site that gives us a look into the ancient history of the Great Lakes region. Near the entrance you will also find a few signs, including one that shows a Site Map. According to the information found on the signs, “Aztalan itself has been recognized as one of only 2500 federally-designated National Historic Landmarks. Recognizing Cahokia’s status as a cultural heritage site of international significance, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Cahokia a World Heritage Site in 1982, placing it on par with England’s Stonehenge, Peru’s Machu Picchu, Egypt’s Great Pyramids, and other remarkable places of the ancient world.”
Wow! When I read that I was even more excited. I followed the trail to the first mound and stockade fence. The entire area was once completely guarded by a stockade fence, which at one point in time was a large wall of protection for the village now known as Aztalan State Park. Upon walking through the park, (even though the snow on a 22°F day) I could not help but feel a wave of peacefulness come over my entire being. As the snow was crunching under me with every step, it seemed to be the only sound I could hear for what felt like miles. The silence of Aztalan is remarkable in the wintertime, and hearing the nothingness felt ethereal! As the stockade towered over me I could not help but feel a sense of security and protection. I imagined what this village must have looked like so long ago. To be standing within the park gave me such a genuine sentiment of gratitude. I am convinced that as humans, it is part of our job on this planet to try and reconnect with nature and the people who lived before us. Aztalan State Park gives the perfect opportunity to achieve just that. As I ventured down the trail in at least a foot of snow I stopped and read every sign the park had in place that described the details and pastimes of the Mississippian peoples who once populated this area. They played games for fun; they made art, pottery and were deeply invested in their community. One of the most mysterious events to have ever happened at Aztalan was the disappearance of the entire village. To this day it is still a mystery why the people who lived in this specific area just up and left.
Curiously, I wondered and wandered and found myself headed toward the largest mound in the park. The Southwest Platform Mound is the largest principle mound and was not a burial mound. This mound is thought to have been used for communal ritual activities. The shape of this mound (and many others) is eerily similar to those of “Aztec pyramids” or Mesoamerican pyramids. Many believe that the Mississippians eventually migrated south and became what we know today as the Aztecs. There are a few theories on this, but it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what is what. It’s possible there was contact from the Gulf region to the Mid-west region of the USA (and vice-versa) due to travel via rivers or on foot. The fact is that there are many similarities between ancient Mid-western and Mesoamerican art, culture, and religion.
Once I got within about 10-15 feet of the Southwest Platform Mound, I could instantly feel an energy shift. I was able to pick up forceful and passionate energy once I got closer to the mound. It was almost overwhelming but in a good way. The energy change that I felt did not feel terrible, and the vibes that I was able to pick upheld a multitude of power. Some of you reading this may think this sounds a bit odd, but as a person who is incredibly in tune with nature and animals among many other things, I found that I was only experiencing a gift! What I felt there was only a stronger feeling of other places that I have been before. I believe that the earth does present us opportunities for healing, and it is no surprise to me that the specific mound that I stood upon and felt such magnified vibrancy on, was used for ritual purposes. The entire Aztalan State Park is beautiful, and carries its essence of magic – but if you do go there; let me know if the particular mound I mentioned calls you, or if you feel a force radiating from it. I’m curious to know others’ thoughts on this.
Aztalan State Park, rich in ancient mystery and history also has another wonderful feature. Part of the Crawfish River borders this land, and the river is directly accessible from the park. At some point on my adventure, one of my friends met up with me to explore the park. We walked down near the river which was covered in ice and snow. I also slid down a nature-made icy slide (which was not on purpose by the way), and almost landed straight in the Crawfish River! Luckily I was layered properly with warm clothes and snow boots.
The Crawfish River is captivating and goes on as far as the eye can see. It is bordered by beautiful trees. Many animals inhabit the area surrounding the river. Once it got a little bit dark we even started to hear the sound of owls in the distance! My exploration of Aztalan was about 6 hours. I think a recommended trip would be much less than that, but I stopped and inspected almost every inch of the park. I also read every post in the park that had information or messages. I took my time that day so I was able to enjoy the true beauty of this ancient land and absorb as much of the natural energy as I could.
Close to the park, a museum dedicated to Aztalan holds hundreds of artifacts unearthed at Aztalan State Park. The museum officially opened in 1942, and it would have been great to visit, but unfortunately, due to the building being so old (est. 1852), there aren’t any modern heating systems in place. The museum is only open during the spring and summer seasons due to that. Overall this trip was still one that was worth taking. To end the day, my friend and I visited a local restaurant, Crawfish Junction. Ending our adventure by eating local crawfish and even some alligator bites were another highlight of the Aztalan experience! I highly recommend visiting this area at least once. There are other notable sites nearby like the Glacial Drumlin State Trail and the Richard C. Smith House by Frank Lloyd Wright that may be worth checking out!
Well, that’s a wrap! I have to mention again, the crawfish dinner from Crawfish Junction was so good! I would certainly go back. Please feel free to leave some comments below, and be sure to let me know if you have ever visited Aztalan or any other mounds or pyramids!
Update: Since this was first written I have learned about geodetic systems of energy. This would explain the feelings I have described above in regards to the energy I felt at Aztalan that day. I plan to discuss this subject in detail in the future. Thank you for reading.